Wither the Ambrosian Rite?

Rorate and Forma et fides have pictures from the Book of Gospels or Evangelarium for the Ambrosian Rite… the post-Conciliar Ambrosian Rite, of course, the Latin Rite of Milan and surrounding region reaching even into Switzerland.

The art for the first version of the 2002 Missale Romanum seems wonderful after perusing these offerings.  They range from something mom would tack to the fridge when junior comes home from 2nd grade and the loonier dreck you find in Chelsea art galleries.

That last one is – I am not making this up – the plate for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Cool, huh?  Doesn’t this leave you shouting “More! More!”?

Keep in mind that this had to have been approved under the aegis of the now-retired Card. Tettamanzi, who did all he could as head of the Ambrosian Rite to suppress the growing interest in the pre-Conciliar form of the Ambrosian Rite.  Just as the Roman Rite is making a come back, so to the Ambrosian.  Summorum Pontificum really ought to apply also to the Ambrosian Rite, but Universae Ecclesiae clarifies that it does not.  It seems as if there may be a separate document concerning the older form of the Ambrosian Rite.

What the hell is that?

Dunno… seems to me that the older Ambrosian Rite could be a pretty good idea if this art for the new Evangelarium is any indication of the direction the newer Ambrosian Rite is going.

UPDATE 7 Nov 15:36 GMT:

Card. Scola on this… thing.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. James Joseph says:


  2. mike cliffson says:

    My withers are being wrung by this art!

    No possible connection whatsoever with said artwork in your post:
    Google news , I don’t think you had it FR.
    An overzealous cleaner in Germany has ruined a piece of modern art worth £690,000 after mistaking it for an eyesore that needed a good scrub.

    The work, called When It Starts Dripping From the Ceiling (Wenn’s anfängt durch die Decke zu tropfen), comprised a rubber trough placed underneath a rickety wooden tower made from slats. Inside the trough, Kippenberger had spread a layer of paint representing dried rainwater. He thought it was art: the cleaner saw it as a challenge, and set about making the bucket look like new.

  3. tealady24 says:

    So . . . where’s the art already? You see, this is why the church is laughed at! Among other reasons.

  4. mike cliffson says:

    Mozarabic Rite? A plainchant expert (UK) told me it been right messed up over the centuries.

  5. Nicole says:

    Fr. Z says, “What the hell is that?”

    hahahaha! If you ever do find out, inquiring minds do wish to know the answer, too :D


  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Why some men high up in the Church hate the beauty of her tradition, or hate beauty in general, is beyond me.

    Why this dreadful iconoclasm continues in 2011, nearly 50 years after Vatican II, is also beyond me.

  7. jbas says:

    What Does the Art Really Say?

  8. That last picture – JAWS
    Presumably there is a chant to go with it – Dah-dum, Dah-dum, Dah-dum-dah-dum… etc.


  9. RichardT says:

    In 50-odd years time I can see small groups of aged supporters making special trips to Milan to celebrate the Ambrosian Rite, to mark the centenary of the long-suppressed ‘Rite of Paul VI’.

    Historic polyester chasubles and felt banners will be carefully unpacked, ancient hymn books will be dusted off so that the traditional “Gather us in” and “Bind us Together” will be sung, and the ritual responses of “come together to be church” and “the People of God” will be made.

    It will be looked on as a quaint curiosity, much as those occasional Sarum Rite Masses in the ’80s were, but the Milanese churches will welcome them, simply glad of a congregation.

  10. RichardT says:

    I think the last one’s a Laffer Curve.

  11. frobuaidhe says:

    The last one is my favourite; I’ve always thought that the Loch Ness monster doesn’t feature enough in liturgical art…

  12. @frobuaidhe

  13. yatzer says:

    Well, yes, the last one is obviously a shark fin–not sure what the symbolism might be there.
    The first two were snatched off my fridge, having been put there by my grandchildren. I wonder if they know they are international published artistes. (Just kidding)

  14. Rich says:

    It seems as if the people commissioned to publish the Evangelarium are just screwing with the faithful.

  15. Neal says:

    The last one is clearly inspired by certain passages of the Old Testament (I’m thinking especially of the Song of Songs 4:5 and 8:10). Doesn’t belong in a missal, though.

  16. Moscatelli says:

    The usus antiquior of the Ambrosian Rite is celebrated in three locations in our diocese (which counts 1200 parishes), and I have the privilege of living in one of these. The old Ambrosian Rite (and chant) is very beautiful. Today our Mass was celebrated by the Curial officer responsible for the liturgy, at the end of the first year since we got the permission to celebrate Mass according to the old form. I would say that it was a small, but important, event. Even if Summorum Pontificum does not apply directly to our Rite, two new celebrations of our own usus antiquior have been allowed since 2007, in analogy with the text and according to the spirit of the legislation applying to the Roman Rite. This is logic, since the reasoning behind Summorum Pontificum is perfectly applicable to all territorial rites as the Ambrosian, Lyonnaise, Mozarabic, Bragarense etc.. I firmly believe and hope that we will have, sooner or later, a decree regularizing the use of our usus antiquior, but I would in this respect want to add that the biggest obstacle to the growth of the old Ambrosian Rite is not the lack of appropriate legislation; application ex analogia was enough to get “our Mass” going: indeed, there could be a big surge in celebrations according to the old books if there were promotors, as is in fact the case also for the Roman Rite. Present legislation gives us the possibility to get the old Mass on demand, old Ambrosian or Roman: but where are the people organizing groups of faithful, speaking with friends, making the requests ..? His Holiness has put the growth of the usus antiquior in our hands, but how do we reply? Far less generously than we should, I fear.

  17. asperges says:

    Having re-read UE, the question of the Ambrosian rite seems un-addressed rather than forbidden. I am pleased to read Moscatelli’s comments above. There is doubtless something less than obvious to an outsider about this whole question on which I cannot comment, but I do not believe the Holy Father in liberating other older rites intended to exclude this one. I see from New Liturgical Movement that old ambrosian vespers and Benediction were recently celebrated too in Milan Cathedral on 12th October.

    I have a large Ambrosian rite altar missal dated 1902 which needs a good home eventually.

    As to where the people organising groups of the faithful: well we are all over the place. And it is very hard work. Some of us have been promoting and organising Masses since the 70s when it was all but forbidden. And we were vilified as treacherous and unfaithful for doing so. Now we are almost trendy!

    What needs asking is why so many Bishops, if not an obstacle as such any longer, still do little or nothing to promote the older rites in their dioceses by washing their hands of the whole matter , not least of all by not encouraging them, or tolerating hostility from the clergy, so-called Catholic press and people. How can the average Catholic even know about Summorum Pontificum when it has never been announced, explained or made available. Even now, I come across people who say, “Good heavens, I had no idea you could still have Latin, the old Mass etc.” It is truly incredible.

  18. Tony Layne says:

    The last one reminds me of Chinese and Japanese prints of islands in the fog. But the one for the Nativity of the BVM simply reminds me of the tacky art you find in department stores and mall knickknack shops to hang in your lavatory to avoid the social lapse of a bare wall.

  19. APX says:

    What the hell is that?
    I take it you haven’t seen the Goonies, or visited Cannon Beach in Oregon. It’s obviously Haystack Rock.

  20. Maltese says:

    The Ambrosian rise was suppressed by Paul VI along with the Tridentine. The modernist pressure was on!

    I feel very fortunate that no modernist bishop can pressure me.

  21. Alice says:

    Looks like the perfect Missal for the Roofless Church! http://www.bluffton.edu/~sullivanm/johnson/nharmony.html

  22. Johnno says:

    It’s interpretive. That’s art made specifically vague so as to be open to one’s interpretation and imagination. You know… like all that dogmatic stuff… open to interpretation… amirite? Bleh…

    I’m starting my own religious art movement to return to the grandeur of what we used to have. These days the world has taken all the best (competent) artists to themselves and having them produce works of debauchery… So many wonderfully talented artists do some fantastic work in comic books, video games etc. Art of the Church back then were comparable to movies and games and graphic novels of our time… but the Church is nowhere to be found amongst that… We’ve handed over the reins to secularism and they are using that talent to teach young and old the path to sin.

    Where are the Catholic films, TV series, animation, comics and video games to compete with what the entire culture of young people are consuming today? Entirely Absent! This needs to be addressed. The Church back then knew the value of inspiring men to follow God through painted art, sculpture, mosaics, music and architecture. Now we have handed over these trades to the world…

  23. Cathy says:

    “What the hell is that?” To be honest, it looks like something that rhymes with ruby.

  24. Fr Martin Fox says:

    OK I am feeling a LOT better about the art in the American edition missals.

  25. AnnAsher says:

    The Virgin Mary with brush growing out of her mouth is frightening and insulting.

  26. jeff says:

    Why aren’t the bishops promoting the EF mass? Well it seems that the bishop of Milan is encouraging the Milanese TLM by agreeing to publish such a woeful altar missal!

  27. judy says:

    RE: What the hell is that?

    It seems to me that it could represent one of the biblical mountains, perhaps a reference to Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, “I have been to the mountain. I have seen the Promised Land.”

  28. Supertradmum says:

    I worked in evangelization in the Chelsea Art College and the Royal College of Art when I worked for the Westminster Diocese with university and college students. Oh my goodness, nightmarish and subjective egotism…not art, which has rules and order. Gag! And, an insult to the Virgin, beyond doubt, bordering on sacrilege, if it were not so banal and trite.

  29. irishgirl says:

    Father Z: ‘What the hell is that?’
    Yes, that’s what I say! And this from Italy, the home of beautiful Renaissance/Baroque art? They couldn’t scrounge up copies of paintings by Michelangelo, Raphael or Titian? Good grief!
    Vincenzo:I nearly burst out laughing in the library with your post…I had to ‘laugh sotto voce’!
    It’s perfect—and glad you’re back!

  30. Fortiter Pugnem says:

    Child: Mommy, why is there a thornbush growing out of that guy’s mouth?
    Mommy: Oh, no, Johnny! That is Art!

    BTW, what’s with the Egyptian mummy?

  31. Denita says:

    There can be contemporary religious/ liturgical art that’s well made, and reverent, but these aren’t.
    That last one: I thought JAWS, too.

  32. QuaerensDeum says:

    I thought maybe the last one was a graph of their Mass attendance — or a narwal that lost a joust.

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